“Can we stop?” How many times have you heard that question as your crew has neared the roadside stand, the farm-gate stall or the farmers market? The kids spill out of the car and vie to be the one who gets to choose the take-home haul. Certainly, the selection merits plenty of enthusiasm. After all, there’s a juicy homegrown, homemade feast being plucked from the soil and culled from our surroundings right this minute by local farmers, producers and creators.
“More, please?” You’ve probably heard that too.
Whether it’s the carrot pulled, washed and eaten straight from the backyard garden, the corn from the stand on the way home or the pumpkin selected from the brightly spotted patch down the road, there’s a bounty here waiting for us to enjoy. Apples and honey, cheeses and eggs, meats and preserves, baked goods, artworks and other treats are showcased at locations across the city and countryside. No wonder there are Ottawa residents who primarily eat foods produced locally and who proudly call themselves locavores. There are also organizations, such as Just Food and Savour Ottawa, committed to supporting local food and its producers.
When you see the Savour Ottawa logo at a market, retailer or restaurant, you can be sure the site or the products are verified as local. Ask. Just because a squash or an onion is sold in a market stall doesn’t necessarily mean it was harvested in the area.
The Ottawa Farmers Market features over 100 vendors selling locally grown and locally made items at sites in Brewer Park, Westboro and Orleans. Offerings range from fresh produce and artisanal foods to arts and crafts. There are events too.
The fourth annual Tomato Festival is taking place at Brewer Park September 7. Running from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., it’s a very popular happening, says OFM’s Tara Simpson. It’s also a tasty one. Highlights will include a salsa competition, chef’s tables and tomato tastings. What’s more, Tara mentions, “We are also returning to Lansdowne for the 2015 season as well as hosting our Christmas Markets at the Aberdeen Pavilion— November 30, December 6 and 7 and 12 and13.” For details and market times, see ottawafarmersmarket.ca.
Located at 1644 Bank Street near Heron, Ottawa Organic Farmers Market runs Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 50 weeks each year. Goodies here range from certified organic meats to herbs and skincare products. See www.oofmarket.ca for details.
“Planted” by Colonel By himself in 1826, the downtown ByWard Market is one of the country’s oldest markets. Open year-round, it’s home to a local farmers’ market, artisan stalls and hundreds of businesses. It’s also a fun place to go if you want to wander around and people watch after you’ve done your shopping.
Seven days a week in season, the city’s historic Parkdale Market is a place you’ll find produce, plants, flowers and shrubs. When the weather gets cold, Christmas trees, wreaths and firewood are available. Located on Parkdale Avenue between Wellington and Armstrong Streets, Parkdale has over 50 market stands and many loyal fans.
A community-run market in old Ottawa east, Main Farmers Market
showcases local producers selling their own goods. It runs Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 223 Main Street on the grounds of St. Paul University. See www.mainfarmersmarket.org for details.
Even Kanata has its own farmers market. Situated in a parking lot at 420 Hazeldean Road, it runs Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., rain or shine, until October 25. See kanatafarmersmarket.ca for details.
It its 25th season, the Carp Farmers Market is open Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the fairgrounds in Carp. You’ll find everything from knitted items to condiments here. See www.carpfarmersmarket.com for details.
Manotick, Metcalfe and Cumberland are just a few other Ottawa communities with farmers markets and the local treasures don’t necessarily disappear when snow covers the ground. Annually, the Locavore Artisan Food Fair showcases products from some of Ottawa’s most creative food makers. It takes place towards the end of the year. See www.ottawalaff.ca for details.
To find out more about Savour Ottawa, check www.savourottawa.ca and for details about Just Food, see justfood.ca.